Saturday, 03 September 2016 13:43

Bruins Open Against Aggies

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Rosen J WSUMany questions will be answered when UCLA, ranked 16 in the AP and 24 in coach’s poll, hook up with Texas A&M in College Station Sept. 3 at 12:30 p.m. PST. This game will mark the fifth time these two historical programs will meet. The series is tied at two wins a piece. There are some very interesting themes that will highlight this game.

Very much in the forefront will be the reunion of former Bruin offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and former UCLA quarterback coach, Taylor Mazzone, who are now employed by Texas A&M. Former Bruin cornerback, Priest Willis is expected to start for the Aggies.

Both schools have had success in their openers, A&M head coach, Kevin Sumlin's career record in opening games is 7-1. He was 4-0 at Houston and one of those wins was against the Bruins. Sumlin is 3-1 with the Aggies.

The Bruins under five-year head man, Jim Mora are 4-0 in openers, but this one may be his toughest test. Mora’s team will be playing a very tough SEC team, on the road, in front of 100,000 fans. Texas A&M was the first school that referred to their fan base as the 12th-man. Playing at Kyle Field will be challenging.

Perhaps the most formidable task will be handling Aggie junior defensive lineman, Myles Garrett (6-5, 275). The duty of protecting sophomore quarterback, Josh Rosen (6-4, 211), will be senior offensive tackle, Conor McDermott (6-8, 310). This could be most key matchup of the game. The winner between these McDermott and Garrett, could decide the game.

McDermott has his work cut out for him. Garrett is the first player in SEC history to rack up double figures in sacks. As a sophomore, Garrett led the SEC in sacks with 12.5. He also had 19.5 tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hurries. McDermott has his work cut out for him.

If Rosen is able to be comfortable in the pocket, and that won’t be a small task, it will help the Bruin cause, if Garrett is able to be the disruptive force he usually is, that will help the Aggies.

In hopes to keep Garrett and the Aggie defense, the Bruins will be breaking in an offense that will feature a more physical running game using both a fullback and tight end. 

UCLA will feature a trio of backs. Mora said he is just as comfortable any one of the three. One of them, sophomore, Soso Jamabo (6-2, 216) is from Texas and will be playing his first game in the Lone Star State for the first time since high school. The other two back to keep your eyes on are junior Nate Starks (5-11, 212) and sophomore Bolu Olorunfunmi (5-10, 210).

One of the biggest question marks for the Bruins will be replacing three productive receivers, all who are still on NFL rosters. Who is going to step up?

A very good candidate will be former defensive back and special teams performer, senior Ishmael Adams (5-8, 185). He is an electrifying return man. The Bruins are hoping he can bring that type of excitement to the offense. Wide receiver coach, Eric Yarber is very pleased with his group and they are talented as any group he has ever had. 

The Bruin defense will be trying to stop senior quarterback Trevor Knight (6-1, 215), who will be making his first start as a Aggie after a solid career winning big games for Oklahoma. This game will be a homecoming for Knight who played his high school football down the road 180 miles in San Antonio.

There are plenty of playmakers on the Aggie offense for Knight to get the ball to, but the one that may be the most formidable is sophomore receiver/return man Christian Kirk (5-11, 200). 

The talented Kirk almost signed with UCLA, but opted to play closer to home and the Aggies are glad that he did. As a freshman, Kirk had 80 receptions for 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 1,789 total yards and averaged 24.4 yards per punt return.

The game will be televised by CBS with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce analyzing the action. The Bruin IMG Radio Network with newly minted Josh Lewin doing play-by-play with Matt Stevens and Wayne Cook handling their usual roles on the radio broadcast on UCLA flagship station 570am LA Sports.

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